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Even if you’ve never made homemade bread or worked with yeast before, this homemade crusty artisan bread is for you. It’s the perfect beginner recipe because it only requires 4 ingredients without any special pans or mixer, there’s no kneading or complicated shaping involved, and 95% of the work is hands-off. Bread masters will appreciate this recipe too because it delivers with delicious flavor, a slightly crisp and mega chewy crust, and those signature soft holes inside like ciabatta or French bread.

homemade artisan french bread

Bread Beginners– Start Here

Have you ever wanted to master homemade bread? Real, crusty, chewy, delicious bakery-style loaves that taste incredible with dips, soups, sauces, and comforting dinners? This recipe is where you start. This artisan bread is for beginners, but even bread masters will appreciate its flavor and ease. It’s so fresh, so flavorful, and so surprisingly easy because it basically makes itself.

You only need 4 ingredients without any special pans or mixer, there’s no kneading, no poolish or dough starter required, and you can add herbs, cheeses, and spices to make a variety of bread flavors.

This base recipe will soon be on repeat in your kitchen. After you realize how easy it is to make real homemade bread, you’ll find any excuse to bake a loaf.

homemade artisan bread loaves

What is Homemade Artisan Bread?

When it comes to bread, the term “artisan” doesn’t mean 1 particular thing. But generally, artisan bread is homemade, fresh, crusty, and deliciously rustic looking. An artisan is a skilled worker, one who works with their hands. But ironically, there isn’t much “work” involved with this recipe.

Why You’ll Love This Bread

  • Easier than you ever imagined
  • Soft + flavorful
  • Chewy, slightly crisp crust
  • Shape however you want
  • No special pans, poolish, or dough starter required
  • Only 4 ingredients
  • You decide the length of time it rests
homemade artisan french bread loaves

Homemade Artisan Bread Video Tutorial

Like sandwich bread, focaccia, homemade English muffins, and bagels— the process is surprisingly easy. If you’re new to yeast, reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.

Only 4 Ingredients

The crustier and chewier the bread, the less fat in the dough– also known as a “lean dough.” We’re using a lean dough for our artisan loaf today. (If you’re curious, a “rich dough” is a soft bread dough with the presence of fat, such as butter and eggs– the kind we need for overnight cinnamon rolls.) Without fat, we’re left with the basics.

  1. Bread Flour: While you can use all-purpose flour in this recipe, I strongly recommend using bread flour. Just like when we make olive bread, bread flour produces a stronger, chewier bread and that makes a big difference in recipe with only 3 other ingredients.
  2. Instant Yeast: Instant yeast is key in this recipe. While you can use active dry if that’s all you have, any quick rise or instant yeast will produce flavorful results in less time. I use more yeast in this recipe compared to my cranberry nut no-knead bread and no-knead jalapeño cheddar bread. Why? Those doughs rest and rise at room temperature. However, for more flavor and just as much rise, I use more yeast and let the this dough rest in the refrigerator. (Cool air slows the fermentation process.)
  3. Salt: You can’t make good bread without salt and for best flavor, I recommend a coarse salt, such as coarse sea salt. I find the bread’s flavor lacking with regular table salt.
  4. Water: I normally encourage you to use warm liquid with yeast because warm liquid helps the yeast work faster. However, use cool or room temperature water here. Not freezing cold, not super warm– cool to touch. 70°F (21°C) is great, but the exact temperature doesn’t matter as long as it’s not hot or warm. The cooler the water, the longer the dough takes to rise and, usually, the better the bread’s flavor. (This is important since there are so little ingredients to add substantial flavor!) We use the same cool water method for no knead honey oat bread.
  5. Optional Cornmeal: Dusting the pan with cornmeal adds a pop of flavor and a little crunch to the bottom crust. This is completely optional. If you have it, use it. If you don’t have it, don’t worry about it.

You can also add herbs and seasonings such as garlic, rosemary, dill, chopped onion, jalapeño, shredded cheese, chopped nuts, dried cranberries, etc. My no yeast bread is the quick bread alternative here– you can add flavors to that loaf, too!

homemade artisan bread dough in a bowl
collage of 2 artisan bread dough images

Baker’s Tip: Avoid adding too much flour to the dough as you work with it. The stickier it is– and the longer it sits in the refrigerator– the more likely you’ll have those big airy pockets of air in the crumb.

shaped artisan bread dough before baking

How to Make Homemade Artisan Bread in 5 Steps

  1. Mix the dough ingredients together. At first the dough will seem very dry and shaggy and you’ll question if it will even come together. But it will. Use a spatula at first, then switch to your hands to ensure all of the flour is moistened. The dough is actually a little sticky after it’s thoroughly mixed.
  2. Let it rise at room temperature for 2-3 hours. Cover the dough and let it rise at room temperature for about 2-3 hours until doubled in size.
  3. Use right away or refrigerate. After 2-3 hours, you can immediately continue with the next step. However, for ideal flavor and texture, I strongly recommend letting the dough sit in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours and up to 3 days. Yes, 3 full days! I usually only let it rest for about 18 hours. During this crucial step, the cold air slows the fermentation process and adds so much flavor and texture. So, you can bake bread in 2-3 hours or in 3 days. The longer it sits, the better it tastes. 🙂
  4. Shape into 2 loaves or 1 boule. Rest as oven preheats. You can shape the bread into a round loaf (boule) or two longer loaves. I usually make 2 longer loaves side-by-side on a flat baking sheet, about 9×3 inches each. Score with a sharp knife or bread lame. Preheat the oven to a very hot 475°F (246°C). The extremely hot air will immediately set the crust so the bread rises up instead of spreading all over. To help ensure a crispier crust, after the oven pre-heats– pour boiling water into a metal or cast iron baking pan/dish on the bottom oven rack. Immediately place the dough inside and shut the oven door to trap the steam. The steam will help create that coveted crisp crust. If you have a dutch oven, shape the dough into 1 round loaf, and bake it inside the dutch oven with the lid on.
  5. Bake until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Gently tap the loaves because if they sound hollow, they’re done.

Look at those deliciously soft holes inside! Reminds me of ciabatta or a French baguette, both of which can be a little more complicated to make.

slices of homemade artisan french bread
slices of homemade artisan french bread on a plate

Serve Artisan Bread With

  1. Slather with homemade honey butter
  2. Slice and dunk in crab dip, beer cheese dip, or roasted garlic bacon spinach dip
  3. Serve alongside slow cooker chicken chili or pumpkin chili
  4. As a dunker for minestrone soup or creamy chicken noodle soup
  5. With a big bowl of mac & cheese
  6. Use for my goat cheese & honey crostini
  7. With anything because homemade bread is everything’s best friend

See Your Homemade Artisan Bread!

Many readers tried this recipe as part of a baking challenge! Feel free to email or share your recipe photos with us on social media. 🙂

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homemade artisan bread loaves

Homemade Artisan Bread (With or Without Dutch Oven)

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 4 hours
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 25 minutes
  • Yield: 2 8-inch loaves 1x
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Even if you’ve never made homemade bread or worked with yeast before, this homemade artisan bread is for you. Watch the video tutorial above and review the recipe instructions and recipe notes prior to beginning. If you’re new to working with yeast, reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 and 1/4 cups (about 430g) bread flour (spoon & leveled), plus more for hands and pan
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt (see note)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) cool water
  • optional: cornmeal for dusting pan

Instructions

  1. In a large un-greased mixing bowl, whisk the flour, yeast, and salt together. Pour in the cool water and gently mix together with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. The dough will seem dry and shaggy, but keep working it until all the flour is moistened. If needed, use your hands (as I do in the video tutorial above) to work the dough ingredients together. The dough will be sticky. Shape into a ball in the bowl as best you can.
  2. Cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and set on the counter at room temperature (honestly any normal room temperature is fine!). Allow to rise for 2-3 hours. The dough will just about double in size, stick to the sides of the bowl, and have a lot of air bubbles.
  3. You can continue with step 4 immediately, but for absolute best flavor and texture, I strongly recommend letting this risen dough rest in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours and up to 3 days. Place covered dough in the refrigerator for 12 hours – 3 days. I usually let it rest in the refrigerator for about 18 hours. The dough will puff up during this time, but may begin to deflate after 2 days. That’s fine and normal– nothing to worry about.
  4. Lightly dust a large nonstick baking sheet (with or without rims and make sure it’s nonstick) with flour and/or cornmeal. Turn the cold dough out onto a floured work surface. Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut dough in half. Some air bubbles will deflate as you work with it. Place dough halves on prepared baking sheet. Using floured hands, shape into 2 long loaves about 9×3 inches each (doesn’t have to be exact) about 3 inches apart. Loosely cover and allow to rest for 45 minutes. You will bake the dough on this prepared baking sheet. See recipe note if you want to use a pizza stone.
  5. During this 45 minutes, preheat the oven to 475°F (246°C).
  6. When ready to bake, using a very sharp knife or bread lame (some even use kitchen shears), score the bread loaves with 3 slashes, about 1/2 inch deep. (“Score” = shallow cut.) If the shaped loaves flattened out during the 45 minutes, use floured hands to narrow them out along the sides again.
  7. Optional for a slightly crispier crust: After the oven is preheated and bread is scored, place a shallow metal or cast iron baking pan or skillet (I usually use a metal 9×13 baking pan) on the bottom oven rack. Carefully and quickly pour 3-4 cups of boiling water into it. Place the scored dough/baking pan on a higher rack and quickly shut the oven, trapping the steam inside. The steam helps create a crispier crust.
  8. Place the shaped and scored dough (on the flour/cornmeal dusted pan) in the preheated oven on the center rack. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Gently tap the loaves– if they sound hollow, the bread is done.
  9. Remove the bread from the oven and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Store leftovers loosely covered at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: The dough can sit in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, so this is a wonderful recipe to begin ahead of time. You can also bake the bread, allow it to cool, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature before serving. You can also freeze the dough. Complete the recipe through step 3. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in a freezer-friendly container. To bake, allow dough to thaw overnight in the refrigerator, or for 2-3 hours at room temperature. Continue with step 4 and the rest of the recipe instructions.
  2. Flour: For absolute best flavor and chewy texture, I strongly recommend using bread flour. You can use a 1:1 substitution of all-purpose flour in a pinch with no other changes to the recipe. I recommend avoiding whole wheat flour in this dough. If necessary, use half bread flour and half whole wheat flour. The bread will taste a bit dense.
  3. Yeast: You can use instant or active dry yeast, but I highly recommend an instant (aka “rapid rise” or “quick rise” yeast). The bread will rise faster. I usually use Platinum yeast by Red Star, which is an instant yeast. 2 teaspoons is a little less than 1 standard packet. If using active dry yeast, there are no changes needed to the recipe. The rise time in step 2 may take longer.
  4. Salt: Use a coarse salt, such as coarse sea salt, in this bread. I find the flavor slightly lacking when using regular table fine salt. If you only have fine salt, reduce to 1 and 1/2 teaspoons.
  5. Water: Use cool water. 70°F (21°C) is great, but the exact temperature doesn’t matter as long as it’s not hot or warm.
  6. Round Loaf: If you want to shape the dough into a boule (round loaf) simply shape into a round ball instead of 2 loaves in step 4. Baking instructions are the same, but the loaf will take a few extra minutes in the oven. If you want to bake the boule in a dutch oven, see next note.
  7. Using a Dutch Oven: Follow this dough recipe through step 3, then follow the simple shaping/baking instructions (steps 2-5) in my Cranberry Nut No Knead Bread recipe including using the parchment paper. If your parchment paper can’t withstand heat this high, you can either lower the oven temperature and bake the bread for longer or grease the dutch oven instead.
  8. Using a pizza stone: If you want to bake your bread loaves on a pizza stone, place pizza stone in the preheating oven. Transfer shaped and scored loaves to hot pizza stone and bake as directed.
  9. No Nonstick Pan: If you don’t have a nonstick baking sheet, line it with parchment paper instead. Coat with a dusting of flour and/or cornmeal before placing the dough on top. Parchment paper can burn, so it’s best to check the box to see how much heat yours can tolerate. Lower your oven heat if necessary and bake the bread for longer until golden brown and when gently tapped, sound hollow.
  10. Flavor ideas: Before pouring in the water in step 1, add any of the following ingredients/combination of ingredients to the dry ingredients in the bowl: 4 cloves minced garlic + 3 Tablespoons chopped rosemary, 3 Tablespoons your favorite fresh herb (chopped), 1 cup your favorite shredded cheese, a diced jalapeño, 3/4 – 1 cup dried cranberries and/or chopped nuts, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, etc.
  11. Reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.
  12. Recipe adapted from King Arthur FlourRed Star Yeast, similar method originally from Jim Lahey.

Keywords: bread, loaf

Reader Questions and Reviews

    1. Hi Jon, There is a little too much dough for a standard size (9×5 inches) loaf pan, so you could try dividing the dough in half and using 2 loaf pans. The edges should still crisp up and the bake time may vary.

      1. Hi! I’m trying to wrap my mind around what went wrong I followed the recipe to a ml and a gram (Europe here). And since I usually don’t look at the video I just assumed it was supposed to be THAT sticky. I was unable to shape it after the 18hr in the fridge and had to add a lot of flour more and knead. It’s in the oven now.
        Any suggestions?
        Thank you

      2. Hi Nela, a dough’s consistency relies on many variables including how you measure the flour, brand of flour, even the weather and humidity in the air. While this should be a sticky dough, yours may be a little too sticky. Don’t be afraid to add 1/4 – 1/2 cup more flour to the dough next time before letting it rest at room temperature.

    2. I’m trying to figure out what I did wrong. I let it rise for 2 hrs and when I put it on the nonstick pan with cornmeal and flour to rest it was still super sticky. I didnt refrigerate because I wanted this to go with our dinner tonight. When I tried to reshape after 45mins still super sticky. I put it in the oven for 20mins and the bottom stuck to the pan and the inside is kinda doughy still.

      1. Hi Sam! This is a sticky dough and will still be sticky after rising. Use lightly floured hands and handle with care to keep the air bubbles in! Baking for a few more minutes next time will help it bake through. Make sure to generously dust the pan with cornmeal or flour to prevent sticking. Thank you for giving this recipe a try!

  1. This isn’t a review (yet)
    I need to ask a question but couldn’t find where to do it. I have a sour dough starter. Could I use this in place of the yeast?

    1. I haven’t tested it, so I can’t say for certain. But let me know if you try it!

    2. I think you definitely could! There is a blogger, farmhouse on Boone, that explains how to add starter to almost any bread recipe!

      Also, LOVED making this bread! I didn’t have time to spend a whole day making bread like usual and it was a HIT at my house!

  2. I love this recipe. It’s my go too when I need a crusty loaf. My love of bread making started faster baking this loaf. Thank you so much!

  3. Just made this – fantastic! No kneading was the selling point. So easy and we had it still warm for dipping in olive oil and herbs – then switched to just butter. Corn meal on the pan is a game changer – the loaves were crispy outside and soft inside. Thank you for this great recipe!

  4. (not a review yet) could i make frog bread with this? would i have to bake it for longer?

    1. Hi Tom, you can bake the bread as close to the suggested temperature as you can get, and extend the bake time to ensure it is fully baked. Keep a close eye on it. Hope you enjoy the bread!

  5. I love this recipe a ton, I make it nearly every week!

    One question, could I use this to make rolls? Just shape them into rolls and bake them? I am vegan so I cannot bake other traditional roll recipes that include milk / eggs

    1. Hi Alexander, we’re so glad you love this recipe! You can make smaller loaves/rolls, yes. Bake time will depend on the size you make them. Bake until the crust is golden brown and when you tap the loaves– they will sound hollow when done.

      1. We absolutely love this recipe! I have never made bread before and this was a game changer for our bread loving family! Thank you!!
        Is it possible to double or triple this recipe?

      2. Hi Adele, for best results, we recommend making separate batches. So glad your family loves this recipe!

  6. I really want to try this recipe, but was wondering, could I do a cool-rise overnight for the rest in step #4? I want to make this with my Foods III class (I teach Family and Consumer Sciences) and would need to make it over multiple days. So I was thinking:

    Day 1-Steps 1-3; allow to cool-rise overnight
    Day 2-Step 4; allow cool-rise overnight
    Day 3-Bake, eat, & enjoy!

    Do you think that would work?

    1. Hi Katherine, that *should* be fine, but the shaped dough may begin to expand and rise overnight. Not much, so I think it would still be OK.

  7. This was my first time making bread and it definitely won’t be my last!! Already planning on making it again for the second time this week. The only thing was i didn’t get that crispy golden brown color on the outside of the loaf.. i am unsure whether it wasn’t baked long enough? Also, i had the dough sitting in the fridge for 2 days and followed the recipe step by step and i couldn’t get the shape of the loaf to stay. Overall still tasted amazing and this is now my go to recipe

    1. I’ve read that your bread should reach an internal temp of at least 195 degrees F. I start testing around the 25 minute mark to see how close my loaves are to this temp. This eliminates the guess work and allows me to make sure to leave them in the oven long enough to reach that golden brown color.

  8. I am SO glad I found this recipe! This was my first time making bread and it could not have gone better. I used the tip of putting a pan of boiling water on the lower rack and I definitely recommend it, the crust is crunchy and the bread is soft and chewy. Thank you!

  9. Holy cow this bread is amazing. I made it exactly as written, letting the dough rise in the fridge for about 30 hours, used cornmeal on the pan, and added water to the pan on the bottom rack for steam. I am new to baking bread and it still blows my mind that 4 simple ingredients can make something so delicious. I will definitely be making this one again soon.

    This recipe is great too as it is very easy to follow and gives great tips.

  10. Love this recipe! It is so good and easy! My dough always seems really sticky and wet compared to what I see in the video. Do I need to adjust for elevation?

    1. Hi Kristen, Some readers have found this chart helpful for baking at elevation: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html There are a lot of variables that go into the consistency of dough, even down to the weather and humidity in the air. There’s nothing wrong with adding just a little more flour to bring the dough into a less sticky consistency.

  11. DELICIOUS and easy! We ate all of it in 1 day. It was my first time baking bread and I appreciate all the advice and guidance. I can’t wait to try your other bread recipes.

  12. I have to agree with other comments that the dough doesn’t hold its shape at all. I have it in the fridge for now, but I might have to add a lot more flour.

  13. I came back to repair my review. I was frustrated because my dough was so liquid it wouldn’t hold shape. but my kids begged me for bread so I removed it from the fridge and baked it in a bread pan. It was perfect.

  14. This recipe is super easy. Like other readers, I also like the corn meal/flour dusting. I tried everything bagel seasoning and it didn’t work as well. Nor did adding cheese and garlic. I liked the bread quite a bit but something didn’t seem right. The dough was great to work with, the ease was fantastic, but I found the bread just too dense. I followed all instructions and left the dough in the fridge for up to 2 days. Suggestions?

    1. Hi Deandra, Scoring the bread helps it cook in the center and expand. Use a very sharp knife, kitchen shears, or a bread lame (recommended) to make a few large slashes. This is key! It could be dense from over-baking and adding too much flour as well. I hope all this helps for next time!

  15. i’ve made this bread countless times, and it’s always delicious! i always use regular flour because i never have bread flour, and i think it tastes great. i’ve used this bread for sandwiches, bread and homemade jam, bruschetta, or even just on its own!

  16. I used the cornmeal dusting and steam methods but my loaves stuck to the nonstick baking sheet. I think the dough should not have been proofed for 45min on the pan it was baking on. Any thoughts?

    1. Hi Deva, you may need to use more flour/cornmeal for dusting the pan — we flour ours pretty heavily. You could also use a silicone baking mat or parchment paper under the bread. Thanks for giving this recipe a try!

    2. I love this recipe so much. I was so intimidated by bread and this is so easy. I have let it rise for 24 hours and as she says, the flavor becomes more complex. I also baked it in my Dutch oven and it made the edges so crispy and delicious. Don’t cut into it right away, or it might turn out gummy.
      Thanks for making baking bread so accessible!
      I am curious: if I don’t have two hours to let this rise at room temp, can I throw it in the fridge for the whole rise?

      1. Hi Trisha, we’re so glad you enjoyed this bread! The dough will still be OK if you skip that rise time. If you skip that time, we would let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 18 hours (and up to 3 days). Then just continue with the recipe (step 4).

  17. I tried to make this recipe and followed the instructions exactly, but the dough ended up *incredibly* wet and messy. I followed everything exactly, so I’m wondering why this happened!

    1. Hi Nevyn, this is meant to be a wet and shaggy dough, but you can try sprinkling flour on your wet dough to help it come together.

  18. I loved this bread recipe! I only let it rise for 1.5 hours, I did not let it sit for the 45 minutes at all (other than the time it took to pour the dough on the sheet and shape it), and I adjusted the cooking time to 30-35 minutes because I am using a toaster oven and 450 ° is its maximum. Nonetheless, despite all these variations, the bread turned out very well and I’ve enjoyed eating it and will definitely make it again! It was my first time making bread with flour and yeast (I’ve made pumpkin seed flour and almond flour bread before). It was easy and delicious. Thank you!

  19. This is such an easy bread to whip together , with such great flavor and texture . For a while after I came across your recipe , I would often have some in the fridge that I could bake to go along with wine and cheese for company during the holidays .
    Now I’m am getting ready for a ‘Farmers market ‘ this weekend & I would love to add this bread too .
    However, I was wondering what & how much of a dried herb you suggest to make the jalapeño cheddar version or if you’ve ever made it this way yourself?
    Thank you for all the wonderful recipes!

    1. Hi Shar, so glad you love this bread recipe. See recipe notes for flavor ideas and instructions!

  20. I have made this recipe before as written and it was a winner. My sister made cheese and gave me the leftover whey. I used that in this recipe instead of the water and it worked perfectly in case anyone was wondering! It took longer to double in size on the counter, so it sat out for about 4 hours, and then I let it sit in the fridge for about 20 hours before shaping and baking. It came out great!

  21. I absolutely love this recipe! I make it at least once a week. I follow the recipe exactly and it never disappoints. My husband and I love to have it with pasta (we toast it and add garlic butter and cheese on top) . It’s so good!

  22. Amazing!!! Comes out perfect every single time. Bakery quality bread with so little effort, it’s almost silly. Spooning and leveling the flour has worked for me with consistent results, not too sticky or dry. Thank you, Sally, for another fabulous recipe!

  23. Thanks for sharing this recipe, it turned out wonderful. I put it in the fridge for 4 hours since I needed the bread for something early the next day and I love the flavor–next time I’ll do it for a full day to see how the flavor develops. Great texture, outside and in. Used it for Pan Bagnat and it was Heaven.

  24. I am in my 80s and been baking for many years using the poolish,biga,and the pre ferments..I enjoy reading your method plus all the comments..

  25. I just made these today and it came out really nice! Thank you for your very well elaborated recipe:)

  26. I made this and it turned out fantastic. I am eating it with homemade potato leek soup tonight! The only difference is that I added a bit more flour, as the dough seemed way too sticky. It was still a bit sticky after adding the extra flour, but it was manageable. We will make this again, and try adding herbs and other stuff to it as well. Great recipe!

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